Education & Family

Top universities 'doubled pay for senior staff'

University College London
Image caption The report suggests that pay restraint at the top could help universities facing stretched budgets

Leading universities doubled their spending on senior staff in less than a decade, a report claims.

Russell Group universities spent £382m on staff earning £100,000 or more last year, twice as much as in 2003-04, the research suggests.

The study by the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts says the proportion of spending on top staff rose from 1.8% to 3.8%.

The Russell Group said top staff had taken small rises, pay freezes or cuts.

The report said that figures on pay for senior staff from the Russell Group of leading universities had implications across the higher education sector.

"At most universities we've seen year-on-year increases in student fees and hall fees combined with real-terms pay cuts and attacks on pensions for lecturers and cleaners alike.

Higher pay

"At the same time universities have massively expanded the pay and number of senior managers that they employ."

"With the total cuts to UK universities being at 3.4% these figures are extremely worrying. It is entirely possible that a significant proportion of the cuts could be mitigated by restraint at the top," said the report.

Dr Wendy Piatt, director general of the Russell Group said: "Our vice-chancellors and other senior staff lead complex multi-million pound organisations that succeed on a global stage.

"First rate leadership and academic talent is crucial if our universities are to continue to excel in such a challenging economic climate."

Dr Piatt said the average rise for a Russell Group vice chancellor this year had been lower than both UK inflation and the country's average pay rise.

The group described the research as flawed as it fails to account for inflation.

The highest spend was at University College London with £50m paid to staff earning over £100,000 or more. Some of these were NHS consultants at the university's teaching hospital.

Imperial College London paid senior staff almost £40m, while the figure for the University of Oxford was just over £35m.

Michael Chessum, a senior member of the National Union of Students and co-author of the report, said pay rises were a significant drain on universities' budgets.

Mr Chessum told Times Higher magazine: "When we first berated vice-chancellors about their pay packages, we did so because we felt they were out of touch with ordinary staff and students.

"We are now seeing that the amount of money drawn by the highest paid staff is having a real impact on university finances."

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